The Beths | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | senialopez.photography
The Beths get the crowd they deserve at the Church
At the risk of leading with a humblebrag, I was at the first ever Beths show in Philadelphia. It was June 13, 2018 — just last year — at Ortlieb’s. There were maybe 30 people at that show, and I instagrammed it.
“[T]he days of [The Beths] playing in front of 27 people in a small bar won’t last long,” I wrote in the caption. “These guys will get huge.”
Since then, the band went from playing in front of maybe 30 people at Ortlieb’s to selling out the First Unitarian Church last night. As much as I would love to boast about my apparent prescience, I know that every last indie soul patronizing Ortlieb’s that summer night thought the same thing. It’s like seeing Britney Spears live and watching her lip-sync: it’s glaringly obvious to anybody paying attention. At Ortlieb’s, the band was rocking. They were charismatic, compelling and sonically spectacular. But the energy wasn’t quite there. This was not the band’s fault. Unlike sheer musicianship, energy is a two-way street; a band and its audience must feed off each other to produce a truly great concert. Because Ortlieb’s was mostly empty that night, that box unfortunately went unchecked.
Fast forward to March of 2019, however, and The Beths get their chance to check that box. The Auckland, New Zealand-based quartet performed with the same captivation as previous shows, but this time with the help of a basement-full of sweaty fans singing and jittering along to the infectious vocal harmonies, sinuous guitar playing and exemplary songwriting onstage. At last, The Beths get the audience they deserve, an it only took about eight months.
After kicking things off with “Whatever,” the band kept up the energy featuring a slew of tracks off their new and only album to date, Future Me Hates Me, including “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” “Not Running” and “River Run: Lvl 1.” A pleasant surprise throughout the night were killer renditions of “Warm Blood,” “Idea/Intent” and “Lying in the Sun,” all seriously underrated tracks from the band’s Warm Blood EP, which pre-dated the album. Many in the audience weren’t as familiar with those songs, but a perpetual state of groovage continued adorned their faces and bodies nonetheless. It was a sign that The Beths had their audience right where they wanted them: chipper, synergistic and submissive to the catchy indie-pop vibes resonating from the drum skins and amplifiers before them. The Beths, at last, have made it.
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. After all, it’s the First Unitarian Church, not Wembley or even Union Transfer. But The Beths’ musical career is on a steep upward trajectory. That much is sure. How high will it go? I don’t know, but, frankly, I don’t care as long as they stop in Philly a few more times along the way. See you there.